Time to cancel the XM subscription, then. From the New York Daily News’ Sam Borden and Adam Rubin :
The Yankees are looking to overhaul their coaching staff this winter and have their sights set on former Phillies manager Larry Bowa (above) to be the third-base coach in 2006, sources told the Daily News on Thursday. The Yanks are also said to be in negotiations to bring back Lee Mazzilli as bench coach.
Bowa was one of the topics discussed during Torre™s sit-down with George Steinbrenner in Tampa on Monday, according to sources.
Roy White, who coached first base for the Yanks last season, is likely to be cut loose and it™s possible that Luis Sojo, who was the third base coach, could shift over to first though he might also be let go.
Sojo is incredibly popular within the team, but his decisions as third-base coach often drew criticism from club executives and fans. The majority of the time, Torre stood up for Sojo but there were instances when the former infielder made choices that were indefensible.
When Sojo ran Derek Jeter into a first-inning out against the Angels in April, for example – taking away a second-and-third, nobody out situation for the heart of the Bombers order – there was little that could be said to defend him.
œLuis was little over-aggressive there, Torre said at the time. œWe let them off the hook. One factor that could allow Sojo to remain with the Yankees is his relationship with the Spanish-speaking players; Sojo quickly developed a strong relationship with Robinson Cano and whenever Torre had an issue with Cano he would typically ask Sojo to be involved in the conversation or even just speak to Cano on his own.
In Wednesday’s Daily News, gossip maven Lloyd Grove made light of recent claims by the mother of Alex Rodriguez that her son’s poor ALDS performance against the Angels could be traced to the recent death of a beloved uncle. Said Grove, “We all grieve in different ways,” going on to make the following claim of A-Rod :
The other night – a few nights after the Yankees succumbed to the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 – A-Rod took his mourning to the Chelsea nightspot Cain, where he danced, drank and made merry with a group of pals until well past 3 a.m.
“He arrived early, with two women and a guy, and requested that they pump the hip hop,” reports a Lowdown spy. “They got two bottles of Grey Goose vodka and kept getting up to get other people into the club. By the end, there were 10 or 12 of them. The women were dancing all around the table, and A-Rod seemed to be enjoying that.”
Yesterday the Yankees’ flack, Rick Cerrone, scoffed to Lowdown: “What comment would I have? The season is over. Have a nice day.”
Or rather, have you heard it less than a dozen times?
The peripatetic Jeannie Zelasko’s prelude to NLCS Game 5 included the tale of Lance Berkman ribbing Brad Lidge by telling him that Albert Pujols’ Game 4 blast had just zoomed past Houston’s charter flight.
Moments later, Steve Lyons informed us that the pilot of said aircraft made an announcement halfway through the flight, telling passengers that the plane had narrowly avoided being hit by Pujols’ homer.
Within the next inning, the scene shifted to Kenny Albert, who repeated a funny story about Brad Lidge being the butt of a joke on the flight to St. Louis. Believe it or not, the pilot made a comment about Pujols’ longball being visible from the plane’s windows.
That none of the above 3 stooges can bother listening to each other is hardly a surprise — it’s hard enough for the rest of us. But surely Fox employs a supervisory figure in the booth who can advise them, y’know, “enough already with the Pujols ball at 35,000 feet”.
Brad Ausmus was interviewed on ESPN Radio tonight. Guess which Astros catcher wrote a funny joke for the pilot to read out loud on Tuesday’s trip to St. Louis?
Depending on who the Phillies select as their new GM, closer Billy Wagner might be sticking around, writes the Philadelphia News’ Marcus Hayes.
Billy Wagner received the Phillies’ latest, best offer yesterday when agent Bean Stringfellow drove from Richmond to visit Wagner’s alpaca farm outside Charlottesville, Va.
He wouldn’t say exactly what it was, but acknowledged that it met or came close to most of his current demands: 3 years for $30 million, all guaranteed money, with a full no-trade clause.
“They made a nice offer. It’s the one we expected would be the first offer,” said Wagner, whose price tag went from $24 million at the All-Star break to $27 million after the break, then rose to $30 million when the season ended.
The Phillies’ previous offer, delivered in person by president David Montgomery and assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. 7 days before, was thought to be less than $22 million of guaranteed money; Wagner wasn’t interested.
“This time, they made a legitimate offer,” Wagner said. “It’s one you definitely look at. Sarah [his wife] and I will take a few days and look at it.”
He wants to test free agency. He wants to know who the Phillies’ new general manager will be, and be assured that the new GM will bolster the bullpen in front of Wagner (above). And he’d love it if the new GM turns out to be former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker, who traded Wagner to the Phillies after the 2003 season.
“This is a positive step, but I’ve never been a free agent. You finally get to pick a place you want to go,” said Wagner, 34, the best of a glut of closers hitting the market next month – a market rife with rich buyers such as the Red Sox, Mets and Phillies.
He wants to see exactly who will be back in Philadelphia, too. The Phillies gave him pedigreed setup men the last two seasons in Tim Worrell and Ugueth Urbina, both of whom were complemented by Ryan Madson.
Worrell is gone. Urbina is under investigation in his native Venezuela for an altercation after a party held in his honor last weekend. Amaro yesterday said the Phillies, who are interested in re-signing Urbina if they don’t re-sign Wagner, would have no comment until they knew more about the incident. Regardless, Urbina, who usually is a closer, has said he won’t return to the Phillies as a setup man.
League sources indicate that the Phillies plan to move Madson from the bullpen, where he has spent his first two seasons, and make him a starter, most likely to replace enigmatic talent Vicente Padilla. The Phillies are not expected to offer arbitration to Padilla. Madson probably would join 2001 first-round pick Gavin Floyd in the back of the rotation.
Wagner wants to make sure that he likes that rotation and, more important, that he has bullpen protection. He figures Hunsicker would supply that if the Phillies hire him.
“I love Gerry. That would encourage me,” said Wagner, who acknowledged that he and Hunsicker “butted heads” when Wagner was an Astro. Wagner, however, has always maintained that Houston owner Drayton McLane, not Hunsicker, was the reason Wagner complained. Hunsicker reportedly left the Astros after last season because of McLane, too.
Unmentioned by Hayes are the Atlanta Braves, who will probably take a long look at available relievers in this offseason.
Tonight’s 1-0 away UEFA Cup win over Grasshoppers aside, the Guardian’s Sean Ingle opines that Middlesbrough’s Steve McLaren would be a poor choice as future England manager.
Four words that should terrify all right-thinking football fans: Steve McClaren, England manager.
Right now, the whole idea sounds faintly ridiculous. Steve McClaren? In charge of England? But if Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side bomb in next year’s World Cup – and, let’s be honest, with Mr Motivator in charge it’s a fair bet – McClaren (above) is next in line. The bookies make him an even-money favourite, a furlong or two ahead of Alan Curbishley at 7-2, Martin O’Neill at 6-1 and Sam Allardyce and Stuart Pearce at 12-1.
Why? Nothing McClaren has achieved in his managerial career suggests he’s good enough. Not his results, which have been below par (75 wins from 198 matches). Not his signings – Massimo Maccarone (£8.15m), Michael Ricketts (£3.5m), Jonathan Greening (£2m), Mark Wilson (£1.5m) et al. And certainly not his brand of defensive football, which makes Sven’s England look like Brazil 1970 reincarnated.
McClaren’s managerial record at Boro is particularly sobering. Despite spending over £50m in four years, the club finished 12th in 2002, 11th in 2003 and 2004 and seventh in 2005. During that period, Curbishley produced near-identical league positions at Charlton – but without the help of a Steve Gibson-sized sugar daddy.
The signings of Greening and Wilson, in particular, speak volumes for McClaren’s judgement: he worked with the pair every day in training while Sir Alex Ferguson’s No2 at Manchester United, yet still blew £3.5m with the nonchalance of a city trader at a low-grade lapdancing club. Neither impressed at Boro and both were soon shipped out.
So why is he favourite to take over from Sven? Partly it’s due to him being Eriksson’s No2, and partly it’s down to the paucity of decent competition. But if being assistant manager counted for anything, Bryan Robson would have replaced Terry Venables after Euro 96, and Lawrie McMenemy or Phil ‘Yes boss!’ Neal would have taken the reins after Graham Taylor was sacked.
All right-thinking football fans would rightly shudder at such prospects. The notion of McClaren taking over should provoke a similar reaction.
(Sam’s big brother Phil would like a word with these Sports Illustrated comedians)
The Toronto Raptors have yet to tip-off the regular season and they’re already receiving major recognition. Sort of. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Buffrey explains.
The Sports Illustrated website (SI.com) has come up with an all-poison NBA team and two Raptors made the list, head coach Sam Mitchell and forward/guard Jalen Rose.
SI.com contributor Paul Forrester included Rose on the list with this explanation: “Rose has made a career out of playing the hired gun, imported by teams so desperate for additional offence that they were willing to hide their eyes at his statue-like defence. Those teams also share a willingness to unload Rose and his salary-cap choking contract at the first nibble.”
As for Mitchell, Forrester added: “Who better to coach the most dysfunctional team we could dream up than a coach who reportedly regularly challenged his own players to fight him last season?”
To be fair, Mitchell denied ever “wrestling” Vince Carter or wanting to go after Rafer Alston, although nobody with the Raptors probably would have blamed him if he had. As for the Carter incident, the Toronto journalist who reported it lost his job shortly after.
Mitchell claimed that he never saw the article in SI.com, but was not amused.
“A smart man, (Raptors’) Wayne Embry, always told me never dignify a stupid question,” Mitchell said yesterday, when asked about the report.
I never thought I’d say this, but Jason Star, you’re yesterday’s trash. Metallagher is where’s it in 2005. (thanks to Brian Turner for the link).
(I can only presume that the persons behind this have nothing but the highest regard for the real Gallagher)
By the way, if you’ve already heard about Metallagher, it isn’t necessary to write to me and say as much. Just like the way several dozen of you informed me that the Napalmed Smurfs video Sam Frank thoughtfully reported on had already been mentioned in Time Magazine. Next time that happens, remove CSTB from your RSS feed and sign up for a Time subscription.
Perhaps because covering a Bill Simmons book signing is beneath him, Newsday’s Wally Matthews visited a Westbury, NY Barnes & Noble earlier this week, to observe Bill Romanowski autographing copies of “Romo, My Life on the Edge: Living Dreams and Slaying Dragons” for the adoring public.
There was the middle-aged lady with the orange hair who practically floated away from the table sighing, “Big guy! Big and good-looking!”
Or the schoolteacher who brought her 15-year-old son and marveled, “I never thought he’d be so mild-mannered. I got a definitely different perspective of him. He’s a gentleman.”
Still, she didn’t want her name in the paper for fear that her association, however fleeting, with an admitted steroid cheat might cost her tenure.
Then there were those who liked the old Romo just fine. “If you ever asked me to name an NFL guy who was on steroids, I’d say Romanowski,” Bill Schiraldi of Glen Cove said. “But so what? If you were afraid someone was going to take your job, you’d do anything to stay on top.”
“I came to a point near the end of my career where I was always searching, always pushing,” Romanowski said. “And I got to a point where somebody presented a substance to me that was not on the banned list … and me being a guy that pushes the limit, in fear of losing my job at the end of my career, not being able to do what I love to do … well, when morality and ambition collide, what wins out? For me at that point, it was ambition.”
It’s a nice little speech, delivered sincerely if a bit robotically, and it may well be true, but to buy that Romanowski only resorted to chemical help near the end of a 16-year career marked by violence uncommon in its viciousness even for the NFL, never missing a game because of injury, is to, well, buy his book.
Because if Romanowski wasn’t in the grip of ‘roid rage when he committed mayhem on Collins and Meggett and Stokes and Williams, then clearly this man was a near-homicidal maniac who belonged not on the football field, but in solitary.
That the NBA’s new dress code is being imposed on a bunch of millionaires who can afford their own fancy threads, isn’t offensive, in and of itself. That the league has made such a rule without consulting the Players Association, however, smacks of trying to appeal to some of the print and broadcast media’s worst instincts. Surely David Stern knows that any player who publicly complains about the code risks ridicule from the yack radio merchants, much as the Pacers’ Stephen Jackson was accused by ESPN Radio’s of “playing the race card”. It’s incredible how often someone in the sports world suggests that their ethnic or racial group has been singled out and/or they’ve personally been discriminated against, their argument is instantly dismissed by deep thinkers such as Coleman claiming “they’re playing the race card. ”
From the NY Daily News’ Filip Bondy.
This week, David Stern banned Mahatma Gandhi (no sports coat), Gen. George Patton (too many silver medals) and Jesus Christ (sandals) from ever playing in his league.
They wouldn’t meet the dress code, couldn’t watch from the bench if they suffered a season-ending injury. And soon enough, there are bound to be more modern, less influential exiles: nonconformists like Allen Iverson and Dallas owner Mark Cuban, rebels without a sports coat.
Cultural imperialism is a tricky business, if you’re the NBA commissioner. You want to be as liberal as the next white, middle-aged New York Democrat. You’ve successfully marketed your game for the young, anti-establishment, hip-hop kids.
But then there are those corporate sponsors and TV analysts out there, shaking their heads at the sight of Tim Duncan’s exposed shirttail, or at a million indecipherable tattoos.
The tattoos won’t come off, but the jewelry just might.
It gets confusing in a hurry, this kind of fashion fascism. Why should today’s athletes be bound by the demands of such an ephemeral notion as business style? Their work has nothing to do with office attire. Sports coats are the descendents of the waistcoats worn at the court of Charles II, king of England in the 17th century. They are, by nature and by history, stifling.
From the Associated Press :
A man got a prison term longer than prosecutors and defense attorneys had agreed to ” all because of Larry Bird.
The lawyers reached a plea agreement Tuesday for a 30-year term for a man accused of shooting with an intent to kill and robbery. But Eric James Torpy wanted his prison term to match Bird™s jersey number 33.
œHe said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird™s jersey, Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott said Wednesday. œWe accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be.”
If I’m ever convicted of a crime in Oklahoma County, I intend to cite precedent, along a demand that my term match Robert Parish’s jersey number.
The day after the Cardinals’ 100 win season ended with a whimper, at least St. Louis’ Ray King could be relied on to think about the team. From the Bellville News-Democrat’s Joe Ostermeir and David Wilheim.
Reliever Ray King said Wednesday he wants to be traded after not being used by the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason.
“If I can’t pitch here, then let me pitch somewhere else,” said King, who was on the roster but not used in any of the Redbirds’ nine playoff games. “I busted my tail both years I’ve been here, and to me, I feel it’s a slap in the face not to get a chance to pitch in the postseason.”
King’s father, John, died Oct. 6, the day of Game 2 of the Cardinals’ division series with San Diego. King went home to Tennessee after the Cards won the next game to sweep the Padres, and returned in time for the start of the NLCS with Houston on Oct. 12.
“I know my dad passed away, but still, if I didn’t want to pitch, I wouldn’t be here,” King said. “I’m pretty bitter about that.”
“I feel I was disrespected in the situation,” King said. “Not taking anything from any of the guys, I enjoyed playing here … but it’s a slap in the face I didn’t get to pitch in one postseason game.”
Red Sox third base coach Dale Sveum (above) has announced that he’s leaving Boston to become a member of Ned Yost’s coaching staff in Milwaukee. Expect the number of outfield assists for teams in the NL Central to increase by 20 or so next season.
Who amongst us hasn’t spent the Christmas holidays surrounded by several hundred other degenerates, pissing away our wages, inheritences and cash swiped from girlfriends’ purses at that mecca of winter horse racing, Aqueduct?
Contrary to a report in yesterday’s Newsday, the track’s delightful ambience — kind of like a pre-production line White Castle, only not as crowded — will remain intact for the indefinite future according to the NY Post’s Ed Fountaine.
Don’t pack your suitcase yet. Men will walk on the moon again before the New York Racing Association stops running at Aqueduct and moves winter racing to Belmont Park, if ever.
Speaking at Saratoga on Tuesday, NYRA president Charles Hayward was quoted as saying the Big A, which is expected to open a long-delayed video-lottery casino by the end of 2006, eventually might become a full-time gaming facility, with racing conducted year-round at Belmont except for the summer stand at the Old Spa.
“You don’t need two tracks,” Hayward told The Saratogian. “Give us a 10-year lease at Aqueduct. By the end of 10 years, we’ll figure out what to do to run at Belmont.”
Astros 5, Cardinals 1
Tempting though it may to praise Houston for they way they rebounded from a 15-30 start to win the National League Championship instead, in the spirit of the late Will Leitch, I’ll instead wave a fond farewell to Busch Stadium and suggest that you check out Tuesday’s Jeff Gordon column from St. Louis Today. Described by Tim Cook as “the worst sportswriting I’ve read in ages”, Gordon found himself in deep awe of the Local 9.
The 2005 Cardinals are a special team, a 100-game winner that overcame a staggering series of injuries with perseverance and teamwork.
The ™05 Cards are all about finding a way, about filling holes with diligent role players, about finding new heroes. The ™05 Cards are about grinding, from the little guy, David Eckstein, to the big guy, Albert Pujols. This team is about tough-minded pitching, led by unheralded Chris Carpenter.
Losing the National League Championship Series to the Astros in five games would have been a terrible ending to a tremendous season.
œFor the kind of club we have and the kind of year we had, losing four in a row would have been — that would have been tough to take, because we’re a better club than that, Cards manager Tony La Russa said.
So the Miracle at Minute Maid was only appropriate for this team.
Indeed, let’s hear it for the 2005 St. Louis Cardinals. They managed to win a grand total of 2 games out of 6 against the second place club in their own division. What time does the parade start?
Seriously, after Roy Oswalt merely pitched the sort of game he has all season long, I fully expect the nation’s newspapers to be filled with apologies, disclaimers and mass resignations now that Brad Lidge, having not pulled a Donnie Moore, is still amongst the living.
As the White Sox have a far longer history of misery than the the relative neophyte Astros, pulling for Chicago is an easy choice. My personal tiebreaker was organist Nancy Faust’s mindblowing rendition of the Vapors’ “Turning Japanese” at the Cell prior to ACLS Game 3. Houston, conversely, showcases the talents of Big & Rich, Mudvanye and other musical midgets of the 21st Century over the Minute Maid tannoy. Milo Hamilton vs. Ken Harrelson is, to paraphrase Pat Sajak, kind of like choosing between the Olson twins. Except both are really old men and openly root for their own clubs. Other than that, however, the similarities are uncanny.
And apparently, Phil Garner and the Astros won something last night, too.
But congratulations to Bobby Valentine (above) and his Chiba Lotte Marines on their Pacific League playoff victory. The Marines will face the Hanshin Tigers in the best-of-seven Japan Series, starting this Saturday.
So says Jessica Hopper’s beloved Sporting News, who today bestowed said honor on the White Sox manager . Would those polled have chosen Ken Macha instead had they known of Guillen’s religious leanings? Either way, I’m keeping my pets inside until after the World Series.
(not the post-game spread in the Chicago clubhouse)
From the Miami Herlad’s Dan Le Batard (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :
Is there something you believe in that very few people do?
There are any number of safe and careful places Ozzie Guillen could have gone with this answer when asked during spring training. But the manager of the Chicago White Sox doesn’t do safe and careful. What fun is that? So Guillen didn’t say he believed in everlasting love, second chances or the designated hitter. He settled on this:
”I’ve got a real weird religion,” Guillen said.
”Santeria,” he said.
It’s a bloody religion, imported from Africa. Guillen believes in animal sacrifice.
Heck, if Chicago fans had known it would work like this, they might have endorsed human sacrifice.
You kill animals, Ozzie?
”Back in my country [Venezuela], yes, I do,” Guillen said.
He realized how this sounded and blurted, unsolicited, just in case you didn’t like it:
You kill with your own hands?
”I pay people to do it,” Guillen said.
What kind of animals?
”Depends on what you need,” he said.
”You bleed, I’m there,” he said.
Though there’s nothing comical about the Montreal Canadians paying tribute to the city’s baseball heritage, perhaps in retrospect, it was a mistake to put Floyd Youmans in goal.
From the Associated Press :
“We want our Saints, we may not want the owner back,”New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (above) said while attending the reopening of Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter.
“I’m ready to go to the NFL and to [commissioner Paul] Tagliabue and say, ‘Give us the Cleveland plan,’” Nagin added, referring to the league awarding Cleveland an expansion team almost immediately after the Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season. “Whatever the Saints want to do, you let them leave, but they can’t take our logo, they can’t take our name, and you give us a promise to give us a franchise when this city’s back.”
While Benson seems creepy enough, I have to take issue with Mayor Nagin as to whether or not the Cleveland comparison holds water (sorry). Not only was Cleveland a far bigger market than New Orleans, but a plan was in place to build a new stadium after Art Modell skipped town. Benson was probably looking for a way out of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina has provided the perfect excuse.
Several dozen news organizations are reporting that current Yankees bench coach Joe Girardi has accepted an offer to become the new manager of the Florida Marlins.
Girardi had also been under consideration for the Devil Rays job. Even if we presume he’d been the front runner in Tampa Bay, this couldn’t have been a difficult decision to make.
(the obligatory post-game shot of Brad Lidge, perhaps wondering what “don’t give in to this guy” really means, or perhaps pondering whether or not home delivery of the Chronicle is really worth it)
The Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice has decided —- a day later —- that Phil Garner should’ve ordered Brad Lidge to intentionally walk Albert Pujols during Monday’s fateful 9th inning. Had Garner done so and Reggie Sanders replied with an extra base hit, Justice’s column wouldn’t read like this :
After Eckstein’s single came perhaps the key at-bat, the one that forced the confrontation with Pujols.
Lidge lost the strike zone. He walked Jim Edmonds.
Up steps Pujols.
Give Lidge credit for not giving in to Edmonds. Give Edmonds credit for not expanding the strike zone.
At that point, Phil Garner walked to the mound. He told Lidge “not to give into this guy.”
Garner wanted Lidge to work Pujols as carefully as he would work him with no one on base. He wanted him to know that walking him was better than throwing one down the middle.
That conversation sounds eerily like the one Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda had with reliever Tom Niedenfuer during the 1985 playoffs.
With Jack Clark coming up to bat, Lasorda waddled to the mound and appears to have told Niedenfuer: “Don’t walk him, but don’t give him anything to hit.”
Which is about the dumbest thing a manager can say to a pitcher. As one current National League manager said: “You should not put that responsibility on the pitcher’s shoulder. Just order the intentional walk. You get into that ‘don’t give in’ stuff, and everyone gets messed up.”
Niedenfuer didn’t walk Clark, but the home run he allowed was maybe the hardest ever hit in the NLCS ” until Pujols crushed that Lidge slider Monday night.
Here’s the second-guess. What Garner should have said to Lidge was: “Walk Pujols.”
Twenty-four hours after the fact, we all know that.
That walk would have put the tying run in scoring position with Reggie Sanders, a tremendous clutch hitter himself, coming up.
But you have to pick the guy you want to beat you. You want the second-best guy to beat you.
Today’s Chronicle is filled with hysterical letters from Astros fans saying they’ve been through enough suffering and have already given up. Which team is leading the series 3-2, again?
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Jon Paul-Morosi.
First his toe. Now his feelings.
Danny Fortson (above) has hobbled through much of training camp, hampered by an arthritic right toe. After Tuesday’s practice, though, the forlorn Sonics forward addressed another sore spot: a report in Monday’s The Seattle Times, in which an unnamed teammate suggested the team had “two sets of rules … one for Danny and one for everybody else.”
Fortson has missed practices and three exhibition games due to the injury and stayed home during the team’s recent trip to Laredo, Texas, because of a virus. He admitted that he is “out of shape,” but placed the blame on the injury, not his work habits.
He said Tuesday that he did not know which teammate made the comment, other than that it must have been “someone with a big mouth.”
“If it’s a captain who said that, like Ray [Allen] or Rashard [Lewis], it’s going to make me feel like I should get out of here,” Fortson said. “Of course I’m out of shape. I can’t work out. I have a sore toe.
“It’s too bad, man. It puts a damper on my whole day. It makes me feel like they don’t want me here. I don’t know who to believe anymore. I’m very uncomfortable.”
“Be a man instead of going to the paper and hiding like a little girl,” Fortson said. “This is ridiculous.”
While we’re still waiting to find out what happened on the Tigers’ charter to get Ugueth Urbina traded to Philadelphia, the Inquirer’s Todd Zolecki brings us the following feel-good item.
(Oogie, left, sans machete)
Phillies relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina has been questioned about his role in a bloody brawl Sunday on family property in Venezuela, according to newspaper reports.
The incident occurred after a welcome-home party for the pitcher. Urbina went out to eat, then returned about 2 a.m. with several people to the farm in the town of Ocumare del Tuy, about 25 miles south of Caracas, several Venezuelan newspapers reported.
According to one of the farmworkers, Urbina started asking about a firearm that had disappeared. The worker, 21-year-old Ricardo Osal, told police that Urbina and others rounded up the workers, beat them, attacked them with a machete, then splattered gasoline and paint thinner on them and burned them.
At least five people were injured in the incident.
Urbina said that he was not involved, and that he was sleeping at the time, the newspapers reported. He has not been arrested.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman remains unconvinced there was ever a real possibility that Joe Torre would’ve left $13 million on the table, or that the Yankees would’ve paid him to stay home.
Joe Torre has $13 million owed to him and the Yankees owe Torre $13 million. Many reasons were cited yesterday why the marriage between Torre and the Yankees was preserved. But there is only one with currency, only one that blends both common sense and dollars and cents.
Torre was going to find a reason to protect the $13 million he has coming to him, and that way was to actually suggest a better line of communication and trust can exist with George Steinbrenner and his henchmen. The Boss, not wanting to pay so much money for nothing, decided to act more like a caring grandfather than vengeful Godfather in a face-to-face meeting with Torre on Monday in Tampa.
There is a Russian proverb, “When money speaks, the truth keeps silent,” and, right now, the power of money is drowning out all hints at candor. Let’s put it this way: If Torre’s contract had just expired, do you think the media would have been invited to the Stadium yesterday for his explanation of how his relationship with Steinbrenner was salvaged or for the introduction of Lou Piniella to his third term as Yankees manager?
For a brief period last season, the Yankees used the marquee at the Stadium to count down days until the opening of their new stadium in 2009. If they want to try some frankness now, they can put “$13 million” up on the marquee and, with each paycheck to their manager, count down toward the closing of his term. The less he is owed, the less job security he truly will have.
Torre actually showed yesterday why he is such a good manager for Steinbrenner and the Yankees by defusing a potentially messy situation, finding the positives to build on. He talked about starting fresh, about not letting ill will “fester,” and instead talking through problems with Steinbrenner, Levine or a Tampa henchman. It is all very Kumbaya.
But if Torre really wants to remain Yankees manager, he had better win and win early next year.
Because as that $13 million drains away, so does his last, best defense.
I’ve been enjoying Mike Shannon of KMOX’s work on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals and their Greatest-Fans-On-Earth, but I’ve been stymied until now in my attempts to find a good photograph of him.
Thanks to a reader who prefers to remain anonymous (don’t worry Joe, your secret is safe with me), such a portrait is finally available :
The New Yorker’s Michael Rosenwald profiles illustrator Michael Witte, a self-styled analyst of pitching mechanics currently serving as a consultant to the St. Louis Cardinals. (thanks to Sam Frank for the link)
Witte, who is sixty-one years old, with wispy graying hair, grew up near St. Louis, rooting for his home-town team. As it happened, some boyhood friends of his bought a stake in the Cardinals in the mid-nineties. Witte began attending spring-training games with one of them, Andrew Baur, occasionally dropping hints that he had made a revolutionary discovery. At first, he was a timid Galileo. One afternoon, Baur invited him on the field to watch Rick Ankiel (above) warm up. œIs that beautiful or what? Baur said. Witte kept quiet. œI didn™t want to be a nasty guest, he said. œBut internally I said, ˜Or what.™ I just knew he was never going to fulfill his promise. A few years post hoc, Ankiel lost the ability to throw a baseball within the same county as home plate. He is now an outfielder.
Gradually, Witte grew more confident about his theories, to the dismay of his wife, a psychologist, and his three sons. œMy dad will happily teach anyone how to throw a round ball with optimal efficiency, said his son Spencer, who played second base for Temple. œIf you sound interested, you basically just volunteered for an hour lesson. Unbidden, Witte began faxing elaborate diagrams of pitching mechanics to his pals in St. Louis. Either they were just being polite or they saw something potentially valuable, but they arranged for Witte to give a presentation on the mechanics of the Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson to an audience that happened to include Bob Gibson. Witte recently learned that the night before the presentation Gibson told Baur, œIf this guy is full of shit, I™m walking out. Gibson stayed. (Witte has not ventured to ask if this constituted an endorsement.) Witte said, œI was able to show him why he had been a great pitcher, which he never understood before then.
Now that he’s already obtained his own studio audience tickets for Stephen A. Smith’s “Quite Frankly”, you might be struggling to choose the perfect Xmas gift for Will Leitch.
I meant the t-shirt, mind you. I don’t think the model is for sale. (link courtesy Baseball Think Factory)
Though David Stern insists that his new dress code is one “that even Mark Cuban could comply with— if he wanted to,” the Indiana Pacers’ Stephen Jackson suspects that “improving the league’s image” is code for something else.
From the Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney.
Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson (above) said he had no problem with requiring players to dress better. But he drew the line at players being told their chains and necklaces can’t be visible over their clothes.
“I just think that’s attacking young, black males,” said Jackson, who wore four chains to the Pacers exhibition game against San Antonio on Tuesday night. “The part about wearing suits, I think we should dress up. A lot of guys have gotten sloppy with the way they dress and I have no problem with that. But the chains, that’s going a little too far.”
Stern pointed out that when the topic was brought up during collective bargaining, the teams “preferred that we do it as a group.”
Even so, many NBA players are more comfortable dressing like the fans they cater to. And Cuban, the maverick owner of the Dallas Mavericks, often dresses in T-shirts and jerseys.
“We don’t really sell to big business,” Phoenix guard Raja Bell said. “We sell to kids and people who are into the NBA hip-hop world. They may be marketing to the wrong people with this.”